How to change the default iOS 14 or iPadOS 14 email app

Apple just removed one of the biggest remaining restrictions from the iPhone and iPad. It is finally possible to change the default email app in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 to something other than Apple Mail.

Making the switch is easy. However, a current limitation will delay many people from taking advantage of it immediately.

Say goodbye to the tyranny of Apple Mail

Since the launch of the iPhone and iPad, the default email app has always been Apple Mail. There have been a lot of third-party alternatives almost from the start, but these couldn’t replace Apple’s messaging app. This means that, for example, tapping an email address on a webpage opened the new message in Mail, even if you’d prefer something else. iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 change that.

But not necessarily today. This change requires the mail application to explicitly support this feature. If the developer has not made their software capable of becoming the default email application, there is nothing the user can do.

Currently the only options are Microsoft Outlook, Spark and Hey. At the moment, Gmail is not an option, but Google has promised that will change. Update: On September 21, Google updated Gmail so it may be the default iOS messaging app.

Also, there is a very temporary problem: this setting will not “stick” to a reset of your iPhone or iPad. Change the default email app to Outlook, reset your device, and go back to Apple Mail.

How to change default email app from iPhone or iPad to Outlook etc.

Fortunately, this change is quick and easy. But the process is not as logical as it could be. Let’s use Outlook as an example of the process.

1 Go to the Settings app on iPhone or iPad, scroll down in the left column until you get to the list for Outlook, then tap it.

2. On the resulting page, you will see an option to Default messaging app. Tap on it.

3. This will bring up a list of all the apps that might be your default. In our example, these are Mail and Outlook. Choose the one you want, then exit the Settings app.

Rather than getting stuck with Apple Mail, you can now make Outlook the default email app.
Screenshot: Ed Hardy / Cult of Mac

And you are done. Just to check back in Settings, and this time, look in the left column Mail. Tap on it, and on the resulting page, you will see that your Default messaging app is now Outlook. Don’t be confused, this setting didn’t exist before. It only appears after you change the default app elsewhere.

Temporary fix for Gmail and Chrome

As stated earlier, Gmail cannot yet become the default email app. But fans of the Chrome web browser have the option to automatically open email links from web pages in the Gmail app. To do this, press the three dots icon on the right of the browser, press Settings > Content settings > Default apps. On the resulting screen, you will have the option to set Gmail as default.

But note that this setting only works for Chrome. For all other apps, the default messaging app is the one specified in the Settings app.

Also change the default browser of iPhone or iPad

iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 also allow users to specify a default web browser. To find out how, read the Mac Cult guide to change default browser for iPhone or iPad.


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June J. Lopez

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